Registrar Definition update

17-Jan-2020

NSW Health continues to mis-classify Registrars because the Medical Officers’ Award has an outdated definition of “Registrar”.

To be defined as a Registrar under the Award as it stands, a medical officer must:

  1. Have had at least three years’ experience in a public hospital (or any lesser period acceptable to the Ministry of Health), and;
  2. Is appointed as a registrar by a hospital, and;
  3. Occupy a position of a registrar in an established position approved by the employer.

ASMOF notified the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW of a dispute in 2019, which was before the IRC on 13th January 2020. In our submission we argued that the Commission must consider the following:

  1. what is a Registrar in fact?
  2. how does that differ from the definition of Registrar in the Public Hospital Medical Officers’ (State) Award?
  3. does the definition of Registrar in the Award exclude classifying a person who performs all the duties and holds the responsibilities of a Registrar?
  4. if the Award definition of Registrar allows a person who performs all the duties and accepts all the responsibilities to be classified as such, is it reasonable or equitable not to classify that person as a Registrar?
  5. Whether the actions of the employer in advertising Registrar positions by another title and/or using an alternative title in the position description are appropriate.
  6. is it reasonable for the employer not to implement the appeal/review process recommended by Justice Staff in the previous decision?
  7. The extent to which a DiT is incorrectly and adversely classified is cumulatively and adversely affected.

ASMOF & HSU met with the Ministry to discuss these issues as recently as Thursday 9th January, at which time the Ministry gave no indication that it was prepared to modify its opposition to implementing an internal appeals mechanism as recommended by Justice Staff, or varying the Award definition.

CURRENT POSITION:

The Industrial Relations Commission has recommended that:

  1. ASMOF after conferring with HSU, is to provide details of a proposed Internal Review Process to the Ministry by 7th February 2020;
  2. ASMOF, the Ministry and HSU to confer with respect to the proposed process during the week commencing 17th February 2020,
  3. The parties are to report back to the IRC on 2nd March 2020 (with liberty to have the matter re-listed if difficulties arise.

WHAT ARE OTHER OPTIONS?

As the Ministry continues to invoke the restrictive State Wages policy and Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Regulation, and went so far in the IRC today to suggest that any attempt to vary the obsolete award definition would breach the no extra claims provisions of the award, options are:

  1. Seek an internal review mechanism as proposed by Justice Staff, or
  2. Seek to vary the Award (with significant delay by the Ministry seeking to argue we are breaching the No Extra Claims provisions of the Award, or
  3. Prosecute each and every inappropriate classification before the Supreme Court of NSW.

Options 2 & 3 are not only costly, but more importantly extremely time consuming (a person seeking declaratory relief for a wrong classification before the Supreme Court may be close to have finished training before an outcome).

NEXT STEPS & RECOMMENDATIONS

The most pragmatic course is to propose an internal review mechanism which has the following features:

  1. A Medical Officer who considers that she/he is employed as a Registrar, but not properly classified shall submit to a Registrar Review Committee comprising a representative of the Ministry of Health, the relevant Local Health District and representatives of the Unions;
  2. The matters to be considered by the Committee include:
  •        Position title;
  •        Job description;
  •        Roster;
  •        How position is described at the hospital/public health organisation;
  •        In the event that the Committee is unable to resolve the matter, reference to the IRC.